Archive for April, 2009

Akshay on Twitter in the NYT

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

We were happy to see recent UMBC alumnus Akshay Java’s work on Twitter is mentioned in an article, Utility in the Jumble of Tweets, in yesterday’s New York Times.

“Some developers are creating tools to help companies keep an eye on the buzz. Akshay Java, a scientist at Microsoft, is trying to figure out a way to identify which experts are most influential on given topics by automatically analyzing the content of their tweets and who is in their Twitter network. Companies like Microsoft could use that information to figure out which twitterers they should contact to create buzz about a new product.”

Scantegrity cryptographic voting system to be used in binding governmental election

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

This November will be the first time any end-to-end cryptographic system will be used in a binding governmental election.

UMBC Professor Alan Sherman and his students have been helping develop the Scantegrity open source election verification technology for optical scan voting systems. It uses privacy preserving confirmation numbers to allow each voter to verify her vote is counted and that all the votes were counted correctly.

The group has been working with Takoma Park MD to use this in a binding governmental election later this year. Alan recently wrote:

“On Saturday April 11, there will be a mock election in Takoma Park, MD, using the Scantegrity II high-integrity voting system being developed in part at the UMBC Cyber Defense Lab. Anyone is welcome to come and vote – polls will be open 10am-2pm in the Community Center at 7500 Maple Ave. This mock election is preparation for the Nov 2009 municipal election in Takoma Park which will also use Scantegrity – the first time any end-to-end cryptographic system will have been used in a binding governmental election.”

Here’s the text a short article on the election from the April 2009 Takoma Park newsletter.

This Arbor Day: Plant the Seeds for Election Verifiability

Election integrity is a major issue both nationally and internationally. During the City’s annual Arbor Day celebration, Takoma Park will try out what may be one solution. From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on April 11, City residents and their families and friends are invited to participate in a mock election administered by the City and its Board of Elections. The point of this mock election is to give voters an opportunity to test out and provide feedback to the City on the voting system it will use in the November 2009 municipal elections.

First among the many characteristics that set this system apart from those previously used by the City is that voters will be able to confirm that their ballots were counted.

As part of their ballot, voters will receive a confirmation code that they can write down, take home and check online to make sure their votes were counted. The confirmation number does not say how you voted and your vote remains private. What it does say, however, is that your vote is included in the final tally and that the machine read your vote correctly.

The system is paper-based and works like an optical scan voting system, making it easy to use. The only difference is that when you vote, instead of a completely black bubble, you will see the confirmation number appear as shown in the illustration above.

Writing down and checking the confirmation number is optional. So, this Arbor Day, while enjoying the festivities, drop by the Community Center Azalea Room to see how the system works. Try it out, ask questions, give feedback, and enjoy the refreshments!

To obtain more information on the Arbor Day Mock Election, visit the City’s website at www.takomaparkmd. gov. Questions may also be addressed to the City Clerk’s office at 301-891-7267 or Clerk@takomagov.org.